A new study by the Royal College of Surgeons (RCSI) in Ireland found that one in four adults over the age of 65 suffers as a result of a combination of alcohol and medications.
Blood sugar, blood pressure, gastrointestinal bleeding and damage to the liver caused by alcohol-medicinal interaction have been found to increase. In addition, mixing alcohol and drugs can lead to some form of sedation, which can lead to falls and other accidents.
The study found that 67% of adults were alcoholics, of which 27% were heavy alcoholics. More than 40% of older adults who have reported consuming alcohol are at risk from mixing alcohol and medications.
RCSI lecturer and pharmacist Dr. Alice Holton said that, elderly people are at the highest risk of potentially harmful alcohol-medication interactions due to their combined use of alcohol with cardiovascular agents and medications that act on the central nervous system.
By surveying 1,599 adults living at home and examining records in their community pharmacies, it was found that the use of multiple medications is increasing with age.
In adults over the age of 65 and with multiple diseases or conditions, multiple medicines use has been found to be more likely to cause harm when combined with alcohol.
The RCSI study recommends that guidelines for medicines with potentially severe alcohol-medication interactions (POSAMINO) previously established by RCSI researchers should be used to prescribe or dispense medicines to mitigate the risk.
The study shows that when alcohol-drug interactions are more clearly prescribed or distributed, the risk of concomitant use of alcohol and medications is reduced. They says that many patients may not be aware of the risk, and that once informed, their alcohol consumption will decrease.